Students: Step up for campaign

By Wes Alcenat

Many students are drawn to Macalester by its prestige and its support system. Our views on admissions and financial aid differ widely, but we can agree that equity and access are hallmarks of Macalester’s identity. The college’s commitment to ensure that talented students from all backgrounds partake in its quality academics is unrivaled by peer institutions. Two out of three Macelester students receive some form of financial aid, and the average award for each student is $26,000. That’s more than half of the already subsidized tuition cost. Need based financial aid at Macalester reached a whopping 68 percent of the student body. For the most part, we can conclude that Macelester puts its money where its mouth is.

Investment in the students of the college reflects the value of the education Macelester wishes to instill in us. Indeed, the growth of Macelester’s endowment almost always goes to benefit students by accumulating more student resources. Despite the financial crunch we are in, Macalester continues to invest in quality and equity. To date, 36 percent of the budget is dedicated to financial aid.

My presence in this college substantiates the numbers and reflects Macelester’s commitment to students like me. I am the son of a working class family, living day by day and pay check to pay check. The cost of a Macalester education is a burden too great for us to bear. Yet, Macalester allowed me access to its education because it believed there was more substance in me than just how I measure in the poverty line.

I invoke my story to demonstrate Macalester’s commitment to honor my journey. Macelester is rooted in internationalism and respect for cultural differences. Almost all continents are represented here and most students seem to speak another language or two in addition to their native tongues. The Macalester experience is exceptional in that it provides an education aimed at producing global leaders for an increasingly globalized world.

However, maintaining our reputation as an exceptional college would be impossible without people’s support. A large part of the new Step Forward Campaign is aimed at renewing that support in order to assure that Macalester’s exceptionality remains strong. The goal of the Campaign for Macalester is to secure $43 million of scholarships and financial aid for students, pay for the construction of the IGC building, invest $22 million in support of new and existing faculty position and renovate and expand the “not-so-fine” Fine Arts Center.

Despite our differences, we can agree that these projects are about making sure that we continue to expand access for all. As students, we should be a part of an effort that celebrates the culture of our college, hence our culture. The Step Forward Campaign wants to provide and ensure the access of an exceptional liberal arts education.

I decided to join the campaign as an Event Coordinator because I believe it is as much about supporting my story as it is about sustaining yours and those to come.

So I invite you to help out with the launching event of the campaign by volunteering on Oct. 10-11. This is a weekend in which students can volunteer to chat and network with alums and friends of the college, show them around, drive a golf cart, and enjoy free Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. As volunteer you would help me extend a welcoming hand to supporters of the college.

After it is all said and done, I think you will have realized, like I have, that this is a campaign for our future. Please join me.

Wes Alcenat ’10 can be contacted at [email protected]